It was early morning in Ponyville. The sun was just beginning to poke out over the horizon as its light cast the sky in a shade of orange and soft pink. The normally white clouds were painted in this hue, creating the illusion that they were made out of cotton candy. In reality, only one of these clouds was composed of the sugary substance. Yellow light slowly, almost reluctantly flowed into the homes of Ponyville; gently illuminating the various furniture, portraits, and décor that were found inside the town’s numerous structures. One such building was the village’s signature library.
Light found its way into the building’s foyer and enveloped the vast shelves of books in a fiery tint. Near the library’s entrance was an old, small door. The knob that was once gold was now almost entirely composed of brown rust, revealing its caretaker’s neglect to maintain it. The wood meanwhile, was dry and crumbling. Its white paint, which had clashed with the rest of the library’s style, had chipped away long ago. Behind this door was a staircase that led down into a basement which had long since fallen into disuse; save for a brief instance the night before. The room was completely dark, or at least it would have been if not for a particularly stubborn beam of light that squeezed through a small crack found in the decrepit door. Unfortunately, this beam failed to illuminate anything more than small particles of dust that danced in its light.
One such speck floated and twirled in the glow for a few moments with abandon, before gently sinking down and resting itself on a strange metal object. This foreign machine lay motionless in the dank confines of the basement, covered in a newly applied coating of dust and grime. Under this metal prison lay a creature of flesh and blood. Jorge, as the beast was formally named, unconsciously tilted his head to the left, effectively sending small tufts of dust back into the air. Slowly, his eyes opened and for a brief moment the world was still. The dust froze in place, the beam of light crept no further, and Jorge ceased to breath.
Then, with a violent gasp, his body shuddered and time renewed its normal pace. For a short few seconds the Spartan was assaulted by a sensory overload. He was completely aware of everything in his surroundings, no matter how insignificant. The musty and humid smell of the grubby books that lined the walls attacked his nostrils with fierce intensity, causing him to gag. Despite the darkness he could see everything around him with perfect clarity; the books, machines, and primitive electronics all carpeted with a thick layer of dust that seemed to occupy more space than oxygen. Jorge could hear the chirping of distant, recently awoken birds through the basement’s thick walls, and his breathing became a cacophony of noise that assailed his hurting ears. He discerned an intense metallic taste of blood in his now dry mouth.
Then, it seemed as though Jorge’s senses shorted out. For no sooner had his mind begun processing all this new information that his feelings all dulled. His vision became blurry and clouded, to the point where he could no longer see farther than a few feet in front of him. His sense of smell disappeared and was replaced with the wafting odor of ozone. His ears rang with a shrill, painful pitch, as though his eardrums had burst. The feeling in his body was gone, save for an ache that was quickly spreading to all his muscles.
It was an ungodly sort of pain, yet it was different from the suffering he had endured on the supercarrier. That had been a sharp, burning sensation, whereas this was a more a tired soreness. The kind one gets after exerting oneself too much, only this went beyond what any other human would normally be able to endure. All that remained, apart from the pain, was the bitter taste of blood in his mouth. He was practically blind. Worst of all, exhaustion soon washed over his body with a vengeance, and he found himself unable to move. Jorge was barely aware of what was happening. His mind was sluggish, and all is thoughts where fragmented and lacked cohesion.
Tired. So tired. Was this death? A dream? No, this hurt too much to be either. He had to move, he had to get up. Was he paralyzed? No, his toes twitched, for whatever that was worth. Get up. He was alive. How had he survived? Inconsequential. He was still breathing and that meant he could still fight. Get up. Move! Where was he? Was he captured? He remembered something. Something about where he was. Computers. There were old machines all around him. Old, but human, not Covenant. Was this a hospital? No, too much dust. Not sterile enough. The Spartan tried to get up, but blacked out for a few seconds from the exhaustion, before quickly regaining consciousness.
Pain. So much pain. God, why did it have to hurt? He needed to get up. Get up. He couldn’t stay still. Covenant. Reach. Every second he laid there more people died. Move. Tired, too tired. He couldn’t give up. He couldn’t. What was happening? He just needed to get up. Get up. Get up.
Jorge lurched forward and, miraculously, managed to shakily stand up. However, he was not expecting his reflexes to be so quick, and the sudden movement surprised him; so much so that he almost doubled over. It seemed as though his mind was trying desperately to catch up with his rapid muscle movement. It was similar to after he had gone through the augmentation process. But while there it was due to the superconducting fibrification of his neural dendrites (which had increased his reflexes by three-hundred percent), here it was because his fatigue was slowing his thinking. Still, somehow he managed to, incredibly, regain his footing and keep from falling over. It was a true testament to the Spartan’s strength and tenacity. Any other human would have been killed by the shock of having their atoms torn apart and put back together, piece by piece. Even a Spartan-lll would have most likely died from exhaustion, but not Jorge. He was, against all odds, somehow moving. Still, everyone has their limits and the aging soldier was rapidly approaching his. Every second was a battle to remain conscious, and it was a battle he would soon lose.
He didn’t care. He needed get moving. Fight. Keep fighting. Always fighting. Never stop fighting. The Covenant was a plague, and it was still infecting Reach. His planet. Move. He needed to get out of the room. Tired. He couldn’t stop. He had already hesitated once before and he would not do it again. So tired. Just rest. No. he would get back to Noble team even if it killed him. He had already ‘died’ once before, what did it matter if he was killed again? No. That was a lie. Spartans never die. He needed to move.
Slowly, his leg lifted up from the ground and he took a step. Then another, and another. Step by step, he gradually made his way towards the stairs, which he could barely see due to his distorted vision. His muscles screamed in protest, begging for respite, which he refused to give them. He was a Spartan. He had to sacrifice everything; it was his duty. His old family, his real childhood, his life; it was all trivial compared to the big picture. Compared to the war. Sacrifice. That was what defined a Spartan. Without that what did he have? He was nothing. He almost didn’t push the button. A moment of weakness. Of shame. It would not happen again.
And so he marched on, ceaselessly, against the current of soreness and fatigue that seemed determined to keep him down. He soon arrived to the bottom of the stairs. Sluggishly, he lifted his leg and began making his way up the flimsy wooden structure. With each step he took the stairs creaked loudly, as if they were shrieking in agony. Jorge found himself in front of a small door without warning, unable to remember the last few seconds of him climbing the staircase. Still, he was there, and that was all that was important. Sadly, the doorway was too small for the large soldier to fit through. This somehow managed to register to the Spartan. In an act of desperation, he used most of what little energy he had left to weakly charge at the door.
It was enough to shatter it (and most of the surrounding wall) into a shower of debris. Jorge stumbled forward and fell onto his knees. The room he was now in appeared to be some sort of archive. There were shelves upon shelves of thousands of books lining the walls all around him. Speaking of walls, they were all smoothed out and rose to meet each other in a curve, as if the room was carved out of a single block of wood. The ceiling was oddly low for a human structure, and Jorge could have easily touched it by stretching his arm up had he had the energy and the inclination to do so.
Jorge didn’t notice these things however. He was too distracted by his lungs, which burnt like hot coal every time he inhaled. His breathing was becoming more and more erratic. His sight faded even further. Darkness was creeping into the corners of his vision. A throbbing pain was assaulting his skull, and radiating down his neck and spine. It wouldn’t be long now. His body was rapidly approaching the bounds of its capabilities, and some part of Jorge’s mind knew this, but he didn’t care. All that mattered to him at that moment was getting up. He knew that if he didn’t rise soon he would collapse. The Spartan was able to lift himself and trudge towards a nearby doorway; which he assumed was an exit, judging its position relative to the rest of the room.
If Jorge had been in a clearer state of mind he may have noticed a few oddities in the hall he was in. The roof was lower than normal, yes, but there were other, subtler details that suggested an environment that was altogether strange and unfamiliar. Such as the books that lined the walls. All of the authors of these literary pieces appeared to be named after verbs, adverbs, nouns, adjectives, and other pre-existing diction that wouldn’t normally be reserved for names. The content of the tomes themselves featured strange fields, foreign history, and a subject discussed in a scientific context that was previously thought to be fictional. The photos that hung from the walls were also quite queer in that they featured no discernible human, and, instead, were populated by brightly colored, never before seen creatures.
But Jorge was far too preoccupied trying to keep himself from passing out to focus on the room he was in, and so these peculiarities went unnoticed. When he was a few feet away from the front entrance, which was again too small for him to pass through, he employed the same technique of escape he had previously used on the basement’s entrance. Squeezing out the last ounces of energy that remained, Jorge charged at the wooden obstacle obstructing his path and tore through it and the adjacent wall. To the wall’s credit, there are few things that can stop the Spartan once he gained enough momentum.
He was instantly blinded by painful sunlight, which stung his unadjusted eyes. His body sagged and his muscles refused to acknowledge the signals his brain was sending them. Done. That last sprint had drained his remaining strength, and he was still not fully recovered from the trauma he endured on the supercarrier. If he pushed himself any more he might cause irreparable damage to his body. Jorge didn’t care though. He just wanted to keep moving. Keep fighting. But, ultimately, it was not up to him. So there he stood, futilely staving off unconsciousness for just a little longer. After a few seconds his vision got used to the light, and he was confronted with one of the most unexpected sights he had ever seen.
They were everywhere, and they were all staring at him with wide eyes. In fact, they seemed more surprised than him. Jorge couldn’t believe what he was seeing. The Spartan reasoned that this was some sort of delirium caused by exhaustion. He slowly lifted his arms, placed his quivering hands on his head, and lifted his helmet off. Sure enough, the aliens were still there, looking at him. He had never seen this kind of Covenant before. They were horse-like in appearance, except their heads were rounder, their eyes freakishly large, and they were all brightly colored; painfully so. They also had human like facial expressions, which he found extremely uncanny. Jorge could see that he was in some sort of town, but the houses resembled human architecture, which made this situation all the more vexing.
The creatures were now whispering amongst themselves and slowly backing away from the intimidating beast in front of them. Jorge was too far away to hear what they were saying, and even if he wasn’t, he was too tired to properly discern any noise. Besides, he doubted he would be able to interpret them anyways. The Spartan could feel his eyelids begin to fall. Any second now. He shakily reached down to his right thigh and was relieved to find that he still had his pistol. If he was going down, he was going to take as many Covenant as he could down with him. Jorge weakly griped the handgun and prepared to start killing as many of the aliens as he could. He clicked the safety off…
Jorge froze. He feebly turned around and thanked whatever deity was looking over him that he managed to find another human. What he saw however, was far from what he was expecting. Behind him, standing right in front of the recently destroyed doorway, was one of the alien creatures. It was lavender, with a purple mane, and had a horn similar in color to its coat, protruding from its forehead. Jorge tried to bring his pistol to bear but found that he was physically incapable of doing so. He dismissed what he had heard as a hallucination caused by his fatigue, seeing as there was absolutely no way that Covenant could have just addressed him in fluent English. But just as the Spartan finished this thought, the purple alien decided to do just that.
“Um… e-excuse me f-for b-b-b-b-bothering you… but… w-what are you?”
Jorge didn’t have time to register what he had just heard, for no sooner had the purple horse-like creature spoken that was overcome with a sensation of weightlessness. His sight was replaced by darkness, and he felt like he was floating. His body was shutting down. Before passing out from exhaustion, the Spartan managed to grunt out a barely audible sentence.
Spike had been sleeping peacefully that night. After earlier events, he had decided that he needed a well-deserved good night’s rest. Rays of light were beginning to stream through the balcony window as the sun slowly poked over the horizon. Meanwhile, the purple dragon was snoring quietly, with a content smile on his face. Every snore was punctuated by a slight twitch of his leg and drool was starting to pool in the corner of his mouth.
He was having his favorite dream again; the one where he builds a house entirely out of ice cream for him and Rarity to spend the rest of their lives together in. Spike was holding Rarity’s hoof in front of the doorway of their new dream house. Both were staring into each other’s eyes in silence. There was nothing that needed to be said. Rarity closed her eyes and slowly began leaning forward. Spike did the same; he puckered his lips and prepared himself for what was to be the greatest moment of his short life.
Their mouths were mere millimeters from each other when Spike started to feel nauseous. His eyes shot open as a horrifying realization hit him. Not now! Oh Luna, please just a few more seconds!!!
All his praying was for naught however, as seconds later Spike woke up and proceeded to belch out a burst of green flame and, along with it, a scroll bearing the royal seal. He rubbed his eyes and glared at the scroll. That’s the eighth time I’ve woken up right before the best part! thought the purple dragon grumpily.
Spike mumbled something incomprehensible as he stood up to stretch and crack his back. Yawning, he picked up the scroll and made his way towards Twilight’s bed. The purple unicorn was breathing deeply, with a large grin plastered on her face. Spike had never seen her like this while she was sleeping. Generally, when he found Twilight asleep it was because she had passed out from a particularly arduous night of studying; and in these cases she simply slept with her mouth handing open, her tongue lolling out, drooling everywhere. Here she looked so serene, so peaceful.
“Psssst, Twilight,” hissed Spike. “Twiiiiiiliiiiiiiiiiiiiight”
Twilight snorted lazily, rolled over slightly, and began mumbling in her sleep.“Ooooh yeeess Trixie. Right there…”
Spike decided that, for the sake of his sanity, he would ignore what his foster sister had just said. Well I didn’t want to do thi- oh who am I kidding? I love doing this. An evil grin spread across the young dragons face while he cleared his throat and moved his mouth next to Twilight’s ear. He paused to savor the moment of silence, licked his teeth in anticipation, and took a deep breath.
As expected, Twilight jumped a few feet in the air shrieking. What the young dragon wasn’t expecting however was to be flung across the room by Twilight’s magic. After slamming into the bookshelf next to the staircase, Spike was covered in an avalanche composed of Twilight’s most private book collection. As the purple unicorn attempted to get her heart rate under control, she looked for her mysterious assailant. Her ears perked up as she heard light shuffling near the newly piled mound of reading material.
Spike, meanwhile, groaned loudly as he clawed his way out of the mountain of literature. When he finally popped his head out of the large pile of books he came face to face… to face to face with three blurry Twilights staring and him, and they did not look happy.
“Spike! What the hay was that for!?!” yelled Twilight furiously, looking like she was about to burst into flames from pure rage.
Spike winced, unaccustomed to the purple unicorn using such foul language. After shaking his head a few times, he managed to clear his vision and began to calmly answer his older sibling. “Calm down Twilight. The princess just sent a letter so I thought you’d want to see it ASAP.”
All of Twilight’s anger seemed to melt off at the mention of a letter from her mentor, and was instead replaced with an expression of minor annoyance. “Fine, but couldn’t you have woken me up more gently?”
“Come on Twi, when you’re asleep you’re practically a log. I’m even surprised that I managed to wake you up with that scream. Geez, sometimes you’re worse than Rainbow.”
Twilight shot the dragon a brief ‘death-glare’ before hanging her head. “I was having the nicest dream…” she sighed in bittersweet melancholy.
“Yeah? Well join the club,” grumbled Spike. “So are you gonna read the letter or what?”
Having forgotten about the Princess’ letter due to all the mornings excitement, Twilight gave a small, sleepy smile and levitated the rolled up parchment. She must be replying from the letter I sent her last night, thought Twilight eagerly. She brought the scroll up to her eyes and began reading out loud.
Unfortunately, I cannot think of any explanation regarding the strange occurrences that you described. I wish I could go to Ponyville and assist you in your investigation of the phenomenon but I have official business to tend to in Baltimare. However, I will be sending my sister in my stead to examine this strange machine that you mentioned. She should arrive in Ponyville in a few hours, and I ask that you please make her feel welcome as she is somewhat apprehensive about returning; despite the success of last year’s Nightmare Night. I must also stress that it is an informal visit and that if you could keep things discreet it would be appreciated. I once again apologize that I cannot be of more assistance but I wish you the best of luck.
Your mentor and friend,
“The Princess is coming?” asked Spike, obviously puzzled. “Come on; is that thing down there really such a big deal?”
“Of course it’s a big deal Spike,” replied the lavender unicorn. “It’s a giant machine that fell out of a portal that shot out lightning and destroyed the party last night. We have no idea what this thing is. For all we know it could be dangerous. I think that warrants a visit from the Princess.”
Spike shrugged. “I still don’t see what the big deal is.”
“You didn’t think that when you were hugging me last night,” teased Twilight.
At the mention of last night’s emotional outburst, Spike began examining his tail fiercely. His feet shuffled from side to side and there was a light blush appearing on his cheeks. “Well… you know it’s cuz… like I said I didn’t want to clean up the library by myself.”
Twilight giggle and nuzzled her little brother affectionately. “Well don’t worry Spike, now I can help you clean up after the Princess leaves. Now let’s get some breakfast, we should tell the girls that Princess Luna is coming and I don’t want to ha- did you hear that?“
“I thought I heard something downst-"
Both Twilight and Spike jumped in surprise. Twilight instinctively grabbed Spike and held him protectively. Neither of them moved a muscle as they stood there, holding their breaths, waiting for something to happen. The tension in the air was palpable. The silence dragged on for what felt like hours but was really a few seconds. Finally, upon being sure that it was relatively safe, Twilight let go of Spike.
“Spike, stay here I’m going to find out what that was,” she whispered to the young dragon.
“But Twilight it could be dangerous! Please don’t go,” Spike pleaded.
Twilight could see genuine fear and concern in Spike’s eyes and was touched. She gave her little brother a small smile.
“Don’t worry. I’ll be fine I promise”
Before Spike could protest further, Twilight was making her way down the stairs. Her horn was glowing, ready to fire off a defensive spell at whatever was down there. She cautiously climbed down the staircase, pausing every step or two to listen for anything out of the ordinary. Despite her assurances to the contrary, Twilight was absolutely terrified.
Oh my gosh oh my gosh oh my gosh! What was that? What could possibly make such a loud noise? Could it be that machine? I never should have brought that thing to the library! I hope none of the books are damaged. What if I get hurt? What if I… no! Bad Twilight! You need to calm down, everything will be just fine.
Twilight took a deep breath and forced herself to relax. It was then that she realized that she had been shaking slightly, so she took an extra second to compose herself. She was going to be of no use to anypony in a panicked state. When she finally arrived to the ground floor Twilight was stunned by what she saw.
The library was a disaster. Splintered wood littered the floor, and a dozen books had fallen out of their shelves as a result of the crash’s shock-wave. There was a massive hole in the wall where the entrance to the basement should have been, and the door itself was nowhere to be seen. Among all this debris, there stood what Twilight was hoping she wouldn't see: the alien machine. She inhaled sharply when she spotted it. She recalled it being large, but having it standing in the middle of her library reminded her of how big it really was.
Twilight started hyperventilating and resumed trembling in fear. The contraption on front of her was so imposing, so intimidating, that its mere presence left the lavender unicorn shaking like a leaf. The machine either didn’t notice Twilight or didn't care that she was there, because it made no move to acknowledge the unicorn’s presence; instead it began charging towards the library's entrance. Twilight’s eyes widened as she covered her ears just before the metal beast burst through the front door, taking most of the wall with him.
This, of course, did not help calm Twilight’s already frayed nerves. She had little time to lament the loss of her front door, as the machine was now outside and probably going on a rampage in Ponyville. Twilight galloped through the ruble filled library and out the front… hole. She skidded to a halt to avoid hitting the metal monster which had, surprisingly, stopped. The lavender unicorn stared at the machine/monster. She quickly realized that she was a little too close for comfort, and tried to back up discreetly.
Twilight nearly had a heart attack when the machine started moving again. It rotated the large cylinders that hung from the side of its main body. They lifted and rested themselves on the top of its central apparatus for a brief second, before pulling off a part of the mechanism. What Twilight saw caused her to gasp quietly.
Under said mechanism was a head. It was a strange head but it was a head nonetheless. Unfortunately for Twilight, she could not get a good look at the bizarre head from her angle, but she did notice what she assumed were kidney shaped ears poking out of its sides. She waited for the creature to make to make a move, but several seconds passed and nothing happened. As far as she could tell it was just standing there, staring at something in front of it.
Twilight discreetly peeked around the frozen body in front of her. The town was as peaceful as ever, and the purple mare even saw a few of her friends. Lyra and Bon-Bon were together as always. Ditzy ‘Derpy’ Doo was hovering next to her daughter Dinky, and Vinyl Scratch was levitating a shopping bag full of records next to her. Apart from them there were a few other ponies that Twilight didn’t recognize, all going about their daily lives. Or at least they would have been if they weren’t all staring at the strange creature in front of them. All the ponies wore awed expressions as they looked at the foreign being before them; with the exception of Lyra, who was looking at the beast with a huge, psychotic smile.
Why isn't it doing anything? Twilight asked herself.
The creature continued to stand frozen, with no indication that it was alive save for its slow breathing. Twilight felt helpless, she had no idea what to do. One thing was for sure though; she couldn't just keep standing there gawking at the creature in front of her. Ponies were starting to get nervous, and she had taken it upon herself the night before to keep the creature so it was her responsibility. Clearing her throat, she took a nervous step forward.
“Uh… h-hello?” The greeting came out much weaker than she had wanted but it had its intended effect. The creature slowly spun around to face her. Its movements appeared weak and uncoordinated, which confused the purple unicorn. She was now able to get a look at the beast's features. The creature did not appear to have a coat of any kind, save for a small patch on what appeared to be its face. Its mane was shaved and practically non-existent. It had various scars on its face, the largest of which ran down from its forehead to his cheek. Its muzzle was extremely flat, to the point where it was eerie, and its snout reminded Twilight of a bird’s beak, only much shorter and less pointy. What stood out the most however was the unfocused look that the creature had. Its brown eyes looked… tired. Despite this, it was still pretty imposing. Twilight’s heart was beating so fast she was afraid it would burst out of her chest.
“Um… e-excuse me f-for b-b-b-b-bothering you… but… w-what are you?”
There was a moment of silence, in which Twilight and the beast stared at each other without saying anything. Then, it opened its mouth slightly and began mumbling.
Before Twilight could interpret the meaning of the creature’s reply, its knees buckled causing it to fall onto the ground face first.
Twilight’s mind was reeling. It talked! It talked it talked it talked! Granted I don’t know what the hay ‘bloody purple’ is supposed to mean, but who cares!? It spoke perfect Equestrian! Wait what am I doing? This thing destroyed the library, it’s obviously dangerous. I better keep an eye on it bef-
“Twilight, are you okay?”
Twilight turned around and saw Spike looking at her fearfully, keeping his distance from the monster in front of her.
“Yes Spike I’m fine, and don’t worry it’s perfectly safe.” I think…
Spike tentatively approached the beast. He lifted his arm and extended his claw. As soon as he poked the creature he shielded his face, expecting the monster to jump up and attack him. When he saw that he was not being mauled by the metal monster he proceeded to repeat the action again.
“Spike, stop that,” the unicorn scolded. “And don’t worry, I think it’s unconscious.”
“What do you mean you think!?”
Twilight ignored Spike and continued to examine the creature before her. The other ponies had long since left, and were choosing to hide in their homes and avoid the library by any means necessary. All except Lyra, who continued to stare at the town’s new arrival with glazed eyes and an impossibly large smile.
“Applejack was right, it does look like a metal minotaur without horns,” observed Twilight. “Come to think of it, looks kind of familiar…”
“Yeah, about that; what’s up with all the metal?” asked Spike as he continued to poke the creature, despite Twilight’s previous reproach.
“Hmmmmm… maybe it’s some sort of armor?”
“Weirdest armor I’ve ever seen,” snorted the dragon. “So what should we do with this thing?”
Twilight looked back at her destroyed library. “We can’t keep it here anymore, I’m afraid it’ll damage the books.”
“Yeah, heaven forbid the books get hurt,” muttered Spike.
“What was that?”
“N-nothing!” Eager to change the subject, Spike began thinking of a place they could keep the creature. “How about Applejack’s barn?”
“Didn’t we bring it from the barn last night?”
“Yes, but that was cuz there wasn’t any space there last night because of the party. Remember?”
“Oh, right.” It’s too early for this, thought Twilight, who had yet to shake the morning's cobwebs from her mind. “What about Applejack? I don’t think she’ll be enthusiastic about keeping this thing in her barn.” Twilight took another glance at her home and sighed. “But I guess for now we don’t have many options. Spike, go get Applejack and the rest of the girls, I’m going to stay here and keep an eye on this thing.”
Spike saluted and waddled towards Sweet Apple Acres as fast as he could, leaving a cloud of dust as he ran. Twilight watched Spike leave her view. As soon she could no longer see the young dragon, she glanced down and inspected her hooves.
What’s wrong with purple?
“No! There ain’t no way ah’m keepin’ this thing in my barn and that’s final.”
Getting Applejack and the others to come to the library was easy. Convincing her to let them keep the strange being in her barn? Not so much.
“But Applejack where else are we supposed to keep it?” asked Twilight.
“Ah don’t know and ah don’t care. Ah’m sorry if ah’m bein’ harsh Twi, but look at what that thing did to the library.”
The library had not left a good impression on the girls. When they arrived to the destroyed tree Rarity almost fainted, while Fluttershy jumped into a nearby bush to hide from the ‘monster’. Applejack immediately rushed to Twilight to make sure she was okay and to ask what had happened. After Twilight explained that the metal creature had been the cause of all the destruction Rainbow Dash, who was now lazily prodding the beasts face, insisted that they let her ‘teach it a lesson’.
“I suppose it could stay at my boutique but…”
“That’s very kind of you Rarity, but we all know it probably wouldn’t fit in your boutique. Now Applejack’s barn on the other hoof…”
Now it was the cowpony’s turn to get frustrated. “Ah don’t know if yah forgot this Twilight, but ah got a family to worry ‘bout. Granny Smith might have a heart-attack if she sees this thing and ah don’t want Apple Bloom anywhere near it.”
“I understand your concerns Applejack, but we only have to keep in there until Luna comes. Then she’ll take it back to Canterlot. Pleeeeeeeaaaaaase.” Twilight begged.
Applejack’s expression softened. She could see how stressed this whole situation was making Twilight and she hated not being able to help her friends. It is just for a couple hours...
“Ah don’t know…“
“Oh come on Applejack!” exclaimed Rainbow Dash. “Everything’ll be fine. If this thing tries anything funny I’ll put it in its place.”
Despite Rainbow Dash not instilling much confidence in the orange cowpony, Applejack finally conceded.
“Fine, but only for a couple hours!”
“You got it Applejack” said Twilight, who had become noticeably more chipper.
“Yay! Now we can finish the party from last night and the monster can be the guest of honor this time. Oooooh it’ll be a ‘Welcome to Ponyville please don’t eat us Mr. Monster’ party!”
“Uh darling, I don’t think that’ll be a wise idea.”
Upon hearing that she wouldn’t be able to throw her ‘Welcome to Ponyville please don’t eat us Mr. Monster’ party, Pinkie Pie’s previously curly hair straightened out and hung limply from the side of her head. Tears began to well up in her eyes and her lip trembled slightly. This scene broke Rarity’s heart, and she immediately started trying to rectify the situation.
“I-I mean not until it wakes up of course,” the dressmaker said giving Pinkie a forced smile. “Then of course you can throw your please don’t eat us… party… thing.”
Pinkie Pie cheered up considerably. Her hair inflated instantly, regaining its poofy style, and her mouth broke into a massive smile.
“Okie Dokey Lokie.”
“Alright,” stated Twilight, trying to regain control of the situation. “I’m going to teleport us to Applejack's barn. The sooner we hide this thing there the sooner the rest of the town will stop freaking out.” She scanned the houses that surrounded her library. Their blinds were shut, their doors were locked, and their residents were scared silly. “Okay, now everypony get close to the metal creature and I’ll start up the spell.”
Everypony did as they were told, save for one pony.
“Fluttershy, everypony includes you,” Twilight said to the shivering bush a few meters away from them. The only response she got was a frightened *squeak.*
The lavender unicorn sighed. “Rainbow?”
Rainbow flew down and pushed the shrub towards the monster, eliciting a loud ‘eep’ from Fluttershy. Once everypony, and Spike, were next to her, Twilight’s horn started glowing. One flash of light later and they were gone.
It had taken less than ten minutes for Twilight and her friends to get the creature locked in the barn. The structure had been surprisingly devoid of any of the decorations that populated it the night before, and Twilight was impressed by how neatly the barn was left. Other than the lingering remains of ‘Marshmallow Mountain’, there was no evidence of the party that had taken place the night before. As the girls exited the barn, Twilight put some of her most powerful barriers of the building’s front doors and was confident that if the beast woke up it wouldn’t be getting out. She then sent a letter telling the Princess to meet them at Applejack’s barn, seeing how the orange mare didn’t want to leave the creature by itself.
“Alright, now that that’s taken care of all we have to do is wait for the Princess,” explained Twilight.
“Hey Twi, what is that thing anyways?” asked Rainbow Dash while she played (and lost at) Tick Tack Toe with Pinkie.
“I already told you Rainbow, I don’t know. But I’m pretty sure I’ve seen something like it before.”
“Well it’s positively horrid. The sooner it leaves the better” said Rarity.
“I don’t think it’s that bad.”
“Uh Twi, ah don’t know if yah noticed but that thing destroyed yer library this mornin’.”
“I know Applejack, but I kind of feel bad for it.”
“Bad for it!” cried out Rainbow crossly. “That thing almost crushed you last night!”
“Think about it. If you woke up in a strange house that you’ve never seen before don’t you think you might be just a little confused… maybe even scared?”
“I just think that as soon as we get that thing back to the Everfree forest or where ever it came from, the better” answered Rarity. “And Fluttershy can have a new animal to take care of.”
Twilight stared at the white unicorn, who was styling her mane, in confusion. “Rarity I don’t know if you realized this but… that thing is sentient.”
Rarity did not realize this. In fact none of the girls did, which is why they all gaped at Twilight when she told them. All except for Pinkie, who continued to play Tick Tack Toe by herself and, for some reason, was losing.
“Wait, you guys didn’t know that? Heck, even I knew that!” said Spike.
“How can yah tell?” asked Applejack. She found it hard to believe that anything sentient would cause that much destruction for no good reason. Even dragons rarely attacked ponies unless they were provoked.
“Didn’t you notice the armor it was wearing?” questioned Twilight. “I mean it covered like ninety percent of its body.”
“Armor? Ah thought that was its skin or somethin’.”
“What about that helmet you put on it when we left it in the barn?”
“Well… ya know… turtles can take their shells off right…?” mumbled Applejack, who was blushing and feeling quite foolish.
Twilight once again facehoofed. “Well it did talk to me.”
“It talked!?!” shouted Fluttershy in surprise. She winced at her violent outburst, which Twilight had barely heard. “Um, what did it say?”
“It said, and I quote: ‘bloody purple’”
“Bloody? What’s that mean?” inquired Applejack.
“Ahem, if I may? Bloody is a colloquial term from Trottingham and Canterlot. It is used express annoyance, anger, or frustration. It can also be used as an insult or to emphasize something,” explained Rarity. “It is… well it… um let’s just say it isn’t used in high society.”
“Soooo… it means buck?”
Rarity cringed at Applejack’s harsh language. “Essentially; although it is a little more vulgar than that.”
“Oh, so it means fu-“
“Rainbow Dash!” shrieked Rarity.
“What? I’m just asking.”
“Rainbow ah would appreciate it if yah didn’t use that kind of language near mah sister… or at mah farm for that matter.”
“Oh, you’re one to talk. You curse more than me!” accused Rainbow.
“Why yah no good little bit-”
“Girls!” shouted Twilight, trying to reestablish order. “We have to wait here for the next few hours so can we please do it without arguing?”
Everyone mumbled their consent. Applejack and Rainbow Dash however, continued to glare at each other despite Twilight’s pleas.
It’s going to be a long couple hours, thought Twilight miserably.
Much to Twilight’s surprise, time flew for the six ponies and dragon while they waited for the Princess. Applejack and Rainbow Dash quickly settled their arguments amicably. Pinkie Pie beat everyone at Tick Tack Toe a few hundred times… each. Applejack went home and brought back a picnic basket full of apple pastries and the group had brunch while Rainbow Dash entertained them with some new tricks she had been practicing.
It was about noon when Twilight spotted the silhouette of the Princess over the horizon. The group bowed respectfully as Luna landed in front of the barn. She showed tremendous poise as her hooves touched down softly on the ground below. Her long, ethereal mane flowed in an invisible breeze as she walked over towards the group in front of her.
“Rise, my little ponies,” she said, addressing the group in front of her. “There is no need for such formalities.”
“It’s great to see you Princess,” stated Twilight happily.
“The feeling is mutual Twilight Sparkle; and please, I would appreciate it if you all simply called me Luna.”
“Okay Princ… I mean… Luna. By the way, I noticed that your speech has improved.”
The Princess of the night sighed, but gave a small smile. “Yes, it has been very arduous but, as you can see, the lessons I’ve been taking have provided great results. But we can discuss this once we’ve dealt with this machine you mentioned. Where is it?”
Twilight smiled sheepishly. “It’s in the barn. But before we go, I think you should know that I may have forgotten to mention something in that second letter I sent you.”
Luna’s eyebrow rose.
“Well… you see… it’s not a machine. It’s a… well I don’t know what it is. But what I do know is that it’s a sentient being,” Twilight chuckled nervously.
Luna stared at Twilight, un-amused. The lavender mare began to feel uncomfortable under the Princess’ gaze. After a few moments of awkward silence Luna spoke.
“That changes things…”
“What do we do?” asked Spike.
“First things first, show me this creature.”
“Right this way Luna.”
Applejack led the group to the barn and unlocked the door. Everyone gasped when they stepped inside.
There was a massive hole where the barn’s back wall used to be and debris littered the floor. It was like the library all over again. But what caught everyone’s attention was the creature or, more specifically, the lack thereof.
It was nowhere to be seen.
I would like to thank my pre-readers Varocity and BassTheBrony for doing an amazing job editing this chapter.